Chapter 4 : Sorting Hat
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The platform looked like any other platform. It was just as wide and just as busy and overcrowded. But the thing that set it apart were the people hustling and bustling around; their strange clothing, the wands they were brandishing, the owls in the cages. But at the same time, the picture they made were familiar; parents hurrying to get their kids on the train on time, younger siblings giving tearful goodbyes. Lea smiled a little sadly as she spotted a family of three, a small girl was being hugged tightly by her mother.
"I can get on the train on my own, Professor." Lea spoke just as a tall man bumped into Professor McGonagall, causing her nostrils to flare. The Professor looked at Lea and opened her mouth to argue, judging by the look on her face, but Lea beat her to it. "No, honestly, I can take care of myself from here. I will see you at Hogwarts, all right?"
Professor McGonagall sighed. "Alright. Keep out of trouble." She said the last part sternly, and Lea laughed.
"Of course I will!" She said, but Professor McGonagall didn't look very assured. Nevertheless, she put Lea's cage on top of the trunk and with a swish of her wand, bound it to her trunk. "Thanks!" Lea said with a grin. "Bye, Professor!"
Lea managed to get to the train fairly quickly and the man by the door helped her get her heavy trunk on the train, cancelling one of her worries. She moved along the narrow aisles of the train, peering as nonchalantly as she could in each compartment. She tried not to look as nervous as she felt and straightened her spine confidently. She stopped when she come upon a compartment hustling with activity. Two redheaded boys, identical twins judging by their faces, were throwing fireworks around, laughing along with everyone else in the compartment as they formed different things. Lea's cheeks coloured slightly as the fireworks took on an inappropriate form and she hurried down the corridor before anyone had noticed her staring.
A few compartments down the corridor, she found a girl with bright red hair struggling to get her large, shabby trunk in the overhead compartment. She was even smaller than Lea in stature and Lea wondered who she'd managed to lift it as far as she had. "Hey, do you need help?"
The girl turned her face around and agonized brown eyes peered at her from behind a mess of red hair. "Yeah." The girl panted. "Help would be wonderful."
Lea released the handle of her trunk and climbed on the bench next to the girl, grabbing the trunk by the sides. "Heavy." Was the only thing she said as she took a deep breath and lifted the trunk as much as she could. She sighed when she saw it was on a level with the overhead compartment, and helped the girl push it into it. Her arms dropped to her sides and she plopped down onto the bench, releasing a heavy sigh.
"Sorry about that." The girl said as she pushed her hair behind her ears and sat down, cross-legged next to Lea. "My stupid brothers all left, and I had to deal with this on my own." She scowled and shook her head. "Oh, I'm Ginny, by the way. Ginny Weasley." The girl stuck her hand out and Lea smiled as she shook it.
"I'm Lea Black, nice to meet you. Would you mind helping me with my trunk as well?"
"Oh, of course not." Ginny jumped on her feet. "You helped me, didn't you?"
Together they managed to unbind the cage from the trunk and put the one into its place.
"Oh, is that your cat? She's beautiful." Ginny smiled at the white cat, which Lea had decided to name Spade. (Yesterday when she played with her, she found a spade shaped birthmark on Ace's tummy, and decided that her name would be Spade. Yeah, she wasn't very original but the name suited her cat just fine. Even if it was a bit boyish…)
"She is, isn't she?" Lea smiled as she unlocked the cage and Spade sprung out of it, jumping right on Lea's lap. She chuckled and scratched her behind her ears.
"What's her name?" Ginny asked, reaching out to touch her.
"Spade." Lea squeezed Spade's slightly when she heard her hiss slightly when Ginny's hand neared and the cat relaxed slightly, letting Ginny pet her gently on the head.
"You're a first year, aren't you?" Ginny asked, cutting the slightly awkward silence.
Lea nodded. "I'm very excited."
Ginny grinned. "Aren't we all?" She stood up and walked over to the window. Her eyes searched for something but she soon sighed. "Ah, well, it looks like mom and dad had moved down the train." She shrugged and took her previous seat. "I've been waiting for this moment ever since my oldest brother left for Hogwarts, so saying I'm excited it's an understatement."
"Oh, I found out about it a couple of weeks ago." Lea said. "But I think it's safe to say that I'm not just merely excited either."
Ginny blinked owlishly. "You're a muggle-born?" She asked, sounding surprised and curious.
Lea's brow furrowed. "No, I don't think so." Seeing Ginny's confused look, she sighed and elaborated. "My parents were both magical, but I never knew them. They were both killed when I was just a baby. I grew up in a muggle orphanage and that's why I didn't know about Hogwarts."
Ginny looked both apologetic and sympathetic. "Oh… I'm sorry."
Lea waved a hand dismissively. "It's alright. I mean, I never knew them so I can't miss them, right? You can't miss what you never had."
Ginny looked awkward and Lea grimaced. Maybe she shouldn't have said the last part?
"You said "your stupid brothers". How many brothers do you have?" Lea asked in attempt to defuse the awkward tension.
Ginny's face relaxed into a smile almost immediately, although her brown eyes didn't lose the slightly sympathetic spark. "Six." Lea's eyes widened at the number. "Yes, a lot, I know. They are all prats but I love them. I wish I wasn't the only girl, though. And on top of that I'm the youngest one as well. It's a nightmare sometimes, I swear. My mum still acts like I'm five and my brothers all have this weird "bro pact" which main rules are to not allow me to be happy and have my own opinion ever. Or until I'm thirty, as Ron likes to say. As I said, prats."
Lea smiled slightly. "It sounds like they care a lot about you."
Ginny grimaced and rolled her eyes. "Too much, if you ask me."
Lea smiled and poked her stomach. "You know you like it."
Ginny shrugged and didn't try to deny it. "Yeah, yeah I do. Where do you want to be sorted? Oh, you know about the Houses, don't you?"
Lea nodded. "Yeah, Professor McGonagall explained all to me. Well, my parents were apparently in Gryffindor, which does sound like a nice house but I'm not sure if I qualify for it."
Ginny frowned slightly. "Well, sometimes the sorting goes with the families. If your parents have been in Gryffindor then there is a high chance you'd be there too. My whole family has been in Gryffindor and I'd die if I don't get sorted there."
Lea perked up. "Really? Cause I really want to be in Gryffindor – it would be like… something from my parents, you know? A piece or something."
Ginny nodded. "Yes, I understand. Well, let's hope for the best, but I'm sure we'll both get sorted there."
"Yeah, let's hope so.''
After the initial rush of excitement and worry, then the whirlwind of making a new acquaintance, the rest of the train ride seemed remarkably mundane. Lea and Ginny both learned lots from each other, each explaining details of the worlds they had grown up in. Lea rather liked Ginny. She was vivacious and bold, and she seemed like a cool person to hang around with. Plus, she was a potential dorm mate.
Just as the evening was beginning to turn the sky a pale blue and purple, a boy appeared on their doorstep. He had red hair and very serious disposition, with chest puffed out to show the shiny badge pinned to his chest. "Ginny!" His serious expression cracked into a slight smile. His eyes flickered to Lea, and his face went serious again. ""Hogsmeade Station straight ahead," he said, leaning in with an air of brisk purpose. "You should be getting into your robes."
"Alright." Ginny said. "We'll manage on our own." She said in a sarcastic voice when she saw the redheaded boy wasn't moving.
"Oh, right." He nodded and straightened. "I must be going now." And he disappeared down the corridor. Lea heard the door of the compartment next door open and the redheaded boy saying the same thing to the people in there.
She turned to Ginny. "One of your brothers?" She asked, already knowing the answer.
Ginny nodded and grimaced slightly. "Percy – he's a prefect and veryproud of it."
Lea chuckled. "I see. So, how about these robes, huh?"
They had a lot of fun getting Lea in her robes. Since Lea could make no sense of them, Ginny had taken it upon herself to help her, but Lea continued to put everything backwards, causing Ginny to laugh and do the same.
Their fun was interrupted by Ginny's brother, Percy, who looked horrified as he walked into their compartment again. He told them off briskly, which immediately ruined their happy, playful mood, and disappeared again with a promise of coming back to check if they had dressed properly.
"Git." Ginny said with a roll of her eyes. "Come on, let's fix you up before he returns."
But Percy never returned. The train soon stopped and both Ginny and Lea walked over to the window and stared outside in wonder. Lea could see an outline of a great building in the distance, and she asked Ginny if that was Hogwarts.
"Yes!" Ginny exclaimed happily, grabbing her hand. "Let's go. Don't worry about your things!" She shouted as she dragged her outside out of their compartment. They joined in the great throng of students but due to their smaller size, they managed to make their way outside quicker.
As soon as they stepped outside they heard a loud, gruff voice shouting. "Firs' years! Firs' years over here!"
Lea's eyes widened when they fell on the giant man standing the distance, already surrounded by a few first years. "That's a largeman." She remarked, still staring at him in wonder.
"Yeah, I know. That's Hagrid, my brother Ron told me all about him. He's the Keeper of the grounds or something like that." Lea looked over at Ginny, who just smiled. "Ron said he's really nice."
"Alright." Lea nodded and took a deep breath. "Let's get going then?"
Ginny nodded and they went to join the growing group of first years around Hagrid.
"C'mon, follow me – any more firs' years? No? Follow me!"
Slightly stumbling, they all followed Hagrid down a dark, narrow path. Lea looked around but she couldn't see anything except for the darkness surrounding them.
"Hogwarts is jus' round this bend here." Hagrid shouted over his shoulders. They all braced themselves for their first sight of the school.
Lea gasped along everybody else as the school – no, the castle – came into view. The castle, adorned with many towers and turrets, stood atop of a rocky hill and was surrounded by a great expanse of green grounds. The galaxy of windows dotting the castle lit warmly and brightly glowed like stars in the dark night. Lea believed that Hogwarts was the most beautiful sight she had ever laid eyes on.
"Four on a boat!" Hagrid called, pointing to a fleet of little boats sitting in the water by the shore. Ginny and Lea made for the first boat they saw and settled on it, side by side. Slowly, everyone else moved and they were joined by a small, mousy-looking boy and another, scowling girl with very pale skin and hair like a long, dark shiny curtain.
"Hello!" The boy greeted brightly, clutching a camera in his hands. "My name is Colin. Colin Creevey. Isn't it amazing?" He breathed, looking at the castle in the distance with awe. "Have you ever seen something so cool? I know I haven't." He raised his camera and took a picture of it.
"It is beautiful." Lea said with a nod.
"Yes, my parents always told me it's magnificent, but they never went into a great detail." Ginny shook her head, gazing up at the castle.
"It's not that impressive." The scowling girl said. Only she wasn't scowling anymore. She was blinking up at the castle with an expression that said she was trying to figure out what exactly was so great about it. "I mean, it's just a castle." She shrugged and turned to face them. "I don't see anything special about it."
"Who are you?" Ginny asked rather waspishly.
The girl rose her eyebrows coolly and replied with an air of haughtiness about her. "Alexia Blishwick. You?"
"Ginny Weasley." Ginny replied, her eyes assessing the girl sitting before her.
Lea cleared her throat. "I'm Lea Black. Nice to meet you, Alexia."
Alexia's eyes flew over to Lea and she looked her up and down. "Black, did you say?"
Lea nodded slowly. "Yeah. Why?" She bit her lip. Did this girl know something about her parents or someone else from her family?
"Oh, nothing." Alexia said, but her piercing blue eyes had a shrewd, calculating look in them. "I'm just curious, that's all. I didn't know there were any Blacks left."
Lea blinked. "Oh, that. It's normal - I didn't grow up in the wizarding world, so..."
Alexia nodded, looking disinterested once again. "Are you a muggle-born?"
Lea shook her head. "No."
"Black.." She heard Ginny whisper next to her. She turned to look at her, and when the redhead noticed her staring, she shook herself out of her trance and smiled. "Sorry. The name is very familiar."
"My great-grandmother was a Black." Alexia said suddenly, looking at Lea again.
"Oh." Lea said, surprised. "So we're related." She stated, looking curiously at Alexia, who nodded.
"Yes. You're related to Weasley as well, I think. I am too. We're all related. Distantly, thankfully." She said the last part with a grimace and a roll of her eyes.
Lea looked over at Ginny, surprised. "We're related?"
Ginny shrugged, looking unconcerned. "We might be. I don't know my family tree by heart but since all the pureblood families are somehow related to each other - then I'd go with yes."
"Am I the only one who thinks this is weird?" Colin said, causing all three girls to turn and look at him. He blushed slightly and shrunk into his robes. "I mean, you guys just met right? Well, it's weird that you are all related and...stuff." He shrugged uncomfortably. Apparently, he wasn't good under pressure.
"You think that's weird?" Alexia asked with a snort. "What about those families who inbreed and marry their own cousins just to stay pureblooded?" Alexia rolled her eyes again, her face twisting in disgust. "Black's family over there is a prime example of that. Orion and Walburga Black - second cousins. Maybe that's why your family is full of nutters. The inbreeding finally kicked in."
"Shut up!" Ginny snapped, glaring at Alexia. "Do you have any tact at all?"
Lea blocked them out as they started to bicker. Her grandparents were cousins? How messed up was that, really? It was a miracle Lea hadn't been born with extra toes or something. That was just wrong. Morally and biologically speaking.
"Heads down!" Hagrid's shout made Lea jump, then bent her head lowly as they went through (She heard Alexia snap at Colin "Down, Creevey! Didn't you hear?" ) curtain of ivy. They reached the shore of the cliff, and Lea craned her neck so she could take in the whole castle from upclose.
They all climbed out of the boats and followed Hagrid through a narrow passageway in one of the rocks, and came out at last on the smooth, apple green fields surrounding the castle. Hagrid continued across the field and up a slight of stone steps that led them to the giant, oak front door.
Lea neck hurt from turning so quicky and so much in all directions. She was just so curious; she wanted to see everything and know everything.
Hagrid raised his large fist and knocked three times on the castle door. The doors swung open at once and there stood Professor McGonagall, dressed in long, emerald green robes and black, witch hat. Lea's face broke into a smile, although it was a little weird to see the Professor finally dressed as a proper witch.
"Is everyone here?" She spoke in a clear voice, her green eyes travelling over the large group of first years. "Thank you, Hagrid." She said after a slight pause. "I will take them from here."
She whirled around and they followed her inside. Lea's mouth opened slightly as she took in the sheer size of the entrance hall. It had a slightly mediaval feeling to it, what with the stone walls and the flaming torches the only thing that provided light. They followed her across the stone wall, and to Lea's disappointment they passed the magnificent marble staircase that seemed to be leading to the upper floors. Professor McGonagall showed them into a small chamber and they all huddled together nervously, whispering to each other and peering around.
"Welcome to Hogwarts," said Professor McGonagall. "The start-of-term banquet will begin shortly, but before you take your seats in the Great Hall, you will be sorted into your houses. The Sorting is a very important ceremony because, while you are here, your house will be something like your family within Hogwarts. You will have classes with the rest of your house, sleep in your house dormitory, and spend free time in your house common room."
Lea tuned out the rest, she had already heard it all.
Once she was finished, Professor McGonagall eyes travelled around again, and her eyes lingered pointedly on a few people who quickly hurried to fix their appearance. Her eyes fell on Lea, who only grinned widely and puffed up her chest slightly - to show that she was properly dressed. She thought she saw Professor McGonagall's lips twitch, but she couldn't be sure.
"I shall return when we are ready for you," said Professor McGonagall. "Please wait quietly."
"She sure knows how to make a lasting impression." Lea said with a smile as soon as Professor McGonagall left.
"Yeah. Fred and George are always complaining that she ruins their fun."
"She looks like someone who shouldn't be crossed." Colin said nervously.
"Are you scared, Creevey?" Alexia asked, her voice adopting a slightly teasing tone. Lea glanced at the dark-haired girl and smiled slightly. She might not be so bad after all. "We know you're not going to be a Gryffindor then."
"Where do you want to be sorted?" Lea asked curiously.
"Who? Me?" Alexia shrugged slightly. "I'll be okay with any house beside Hufflepuff. If I get sorted there, althought it's highly unlikely, I'll probably defect or something. I won't be able to bare the shame."
Lea frowned. "What's wrong with Hufflepuff?"
"Nothing." Ginny said just as Alexia said "Everything"
Alexia rolled her eyes and leaned forward, whispering lowly. "Hufflepuff is full of spinless pushovers. It's the house that accepts everyone.If you're not good enough for the other three houses, then you go in Hufflepuff. I don't know about you but I certainly don't want to be one of those losers."
"Uh-huh." Lea nodded slowly, not knowing what to say.
Alexia smirked. "It's alright - you can say it. You don't want to be there either. But I'd be surprised if you did. The Blacks have been in Slytherin for generations - well, except for a couple of exceptions, but they didn't turn out much better anyway. You're probably going there."
"But my parents-"
"It doesn't matter, really." Alexia cut her off. "The Hat is more inclined to sort you in the house your family is usually sorted then any other house. Don't worry, my family has been in Slytherin almost as long as yours. We might get to be dorm mates, after all."
"I-" Lea sighed and shook her head. "We'll see, won't we?"
"No wonder I don't like you." Ginny said suddenly, glaring at Alexia. "You're a born Slytherin."
Alexia snorted. "I can't say I like you either, Weasley. Plus, I never said I want to be sorted in Slytherin. I just said that I'll most likely end up there because of my heritage. I can't help in what family I'm born in, can I?" Her eyes narrowed at Ginny, and she seemed to be challenging her in some way.
"Of course." Ginny replied curtly. "My mistake."
Lea glanced at Colin, who looked just as confused as she did. She decided not to interfere, though. It looked like they needed to get it out of their systems anyway.
"Form a line," A sharp voice said. "and follow me."
They all quickly formed a line. Lea stood behind Alexia, with Ginny behind her. She felt like she should be standing in between them, just in case. They followed Professor McGonagall back across the hall, and through the set of double doors, and into the Great Hall.
Lea thought that she'd already gotten used to the breathtaking beauty of the castle, but she was proved wrong once she walked in. The Great Hall was large, with four long tables full of hundreds of students grinning, laughing and chattering loudly. At the front of the hall was a long table on which sat all the teachers and smack in the middle, the headmaster. Lea's eyes were drawn immediately to the ceiling and for a moment she thought there wasn't a ceiling at all. She was staring at a perfect representation of the night sky, the deep blue and purple heavens dotted with glowing, golden stars and off the right, right above the table with the gold and red banners was the crescent moon.
They all lined up at the front of the hall and stared up at Professor McGonagall who stood tall before them, with a scroll of parchment with one hand and a small, rickety stool by her side. Lea's fell on the dusty, patched black hat on the stool and she smiled in anticipation.
After a lot of whining and complaining, Lea had managed to get Professor McGonagall to tell her how the sorting went. She felt much more confident than, say, Colin, who was trembling next to her, his wide, bug eyes looking around the hall nervously.
The silence was deafening. Lea looked around and wondered why no one was moving and they all looked like they were waiting for something. She followed everyone's gazes and found herself staring at the Sorting Hat again. Suddenly, a rip at the bottom formed like a mouth and the Hat began to… sing.
Lea burst into applause along with everybody else once the hat was over with its song.
"Whoever enchanted that hat should've given it a better singing voice." Alexia grumbled next to her.
But Lea was too surprised to reply. Professor McGonagall hadn't told her about the singing part. She shook her head and smiled slightly – it was certainly a pleasant surprise. She soon joined the loud applause and watched as the hat bowed to each table and became still again.
Professor McGonagall stepped forward and unrolled the parchment in her hands. "When I call your name, you will put on the hat and sit on the stool to be sorted-"
A brown haired girl stumbled onto the platform and put on the hat as she jumped on the stool. A moment of silence and then-
All the tables burst into applause, but one of the tables was noticeably more excited. Theresa lifted the hat, put it back on the stool, then ran over to the loudest table and took a sit, smiling happily.
Two other students followed before it was Lea's turn. Stephen Anderson went to Ravenclaw, while Sophia Avalon went to Gryffindor.
Lea blinked, startled at the name. She had always called herself Lea because that was the name sewed onto the blanket the police had found her in. Shaking her head, she pushed through the people and walked on the platform. She turned around and sat down, and she had a second to see everyone's staring faces – especially the green and silver table – before Professor McGonagall put the hat on her head, which fell over her eyes.
"Oho! Black, are you? What a surprise! I thought I was done sorting you lot. Oho, yes, yes, I know the exact place for you. Quite a lot of courage you have, child – just like your mother and especially like your father. Rather reckless, he was. I remember he was quite bold, too. You're clever, but Ravenclaw is not the place for you, is it? You don't like studying that much. And logic does escape you sometimes. Yes, yes, there is only one place for you, my dear and it is – ""
A relieved smile appeared on her face as the hat's voice boomed into her ears. She lifted the hat off her head and handed it back to Professor McGonagall, than she proceeded to run over to the Gryffindor table, which was clapping and whistling in a rather rowdy fashion. She looked over to her fellow first years and saw Ginny giving her a wide grin.
"Save me a seat." She mouthed. Lea grinned widely and nodded, plopping down on the bench next to an older student. She caught Alexia's eyes and despite her earlier words, she seemed genuinely happy for her.
Alexia straightened and made her way on the platform, sitting regally on the small stool as if it was a throne. Lea noticed her eyes flickering to the Slytherin table and crossed her fingers.
Alexia's sorting took long, much longer then it took with Lea. But finally the Hat seemed to come to a decision.
Lea laughed and started to clap and cheer along with the rest of her house. Alexia joined them, her happy smile transforming her face completely.
"I almost didn't get here." She said as she took a seat beside Lea. "But after I threatened the hat repeatedly to not put me in Slytherin, it decided that I'm brave and foolish enough anyway, so why not put me where I belong?" She grinned. "I think I impressed it."
Lea laughed. "I bet you did."
Colin joined them soon, along with three other boys and a girl. Finally, it was Ginny's turn.
The hat had barely touched her head before it shouted "GRYFFINDOR!"
They all burst into applause, and the redheaded twins down the table clapped and cheered the loudest of them all. Lea guessed they were also Ginny's brothers.
"That was easy." Ginny said as she took a seat opposite of Lea.
Any further conversation was subdued as Professor Dumbledore rose to his feet and spread his arms widely, his face beaming at them. "Welcome!" He boomed. "Welcome to a new year at Hogwarts! I imagine you are all famished as myself, and the announcements can wait for the end, so let the feast – begin!"
Lea heard gasps around her and turned around, her eyes widening as she saw all the food covering the table. Everything looked and smelled so delicious that she hardly dared to reach out and take anything.
Her new friends had no reservations however. They all started to fill their plates amply and when Ginny noticed she wasn't moving, she gave her an odd look.
"Hey, Lea, come on. The food will finish soon!"
Lea shook herself out of her trance and nodded. She pilled roast chicken, mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables on her plate and she, along with everybody else, dug in with fervor.
Author's note:Leandra means lioness- it is of a Greek origin. It does seem like a fitting name for Sirius's daughter.